KARACHI, Aug 2: With four points under their belt, the Green-shirts have boosted their morale and hence should play attacking hockey from now onwards, advised Olympian Islahuddin Siddiqui.
Speaking to Dawn from London soon after Pakistan’s 2-0 victory against Argentina in Olympics hockey, the former captain and coach wished the team well while pointing out some of their weak points in the match on Wednesday.
The last time Pakistan played Argentina was a couple of months ago at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia, where the Green-shirts beat them 4-2. Pakistan have now faced Argentina five times in the Olympics and have beaten them on each occasion.
“But if you compare this match with the one Pakistan drew 1-1 with Spain on Monday, I will have to say that Pakistan played better against Spain,” Islah commented.
“During the first period it seemed as if Pakistan and Argentina were playing some friendly, exhibition match and not really an Olympic game.
“Pakistan, as usual, took time to settle. The fourth minute saw Rizwan Sr missing a chance and the 15th had Rehan Butt doing the same thing with Abdul Haseem Khan following suit in the 29th minute.
“So our forward line is still missing its targets and we cannot depend on penalty-corners for getting the goals.
“Both our goals were scored on penalty-corners. We managed to get four penalty-corners, two of which we wasted.
“The two that we missed, the second and fourth, were captain Sohail Abbas’s undoing. Then, even though we were leading, the second half of the game was controlled by Argentina who kept on attacking in Pakistan’s half but remained unlucky as they also got four penalty-corners but wasted all of them. They were so close at one point when the ball rebounded off the goalpost from it was cleared by our defence.
“Speaking of our defence, Fareed Ahmed was sent out twice on a yellow card! Our defence, too, should take care and play with patience as it cannot indulge in rough game because Pakistan cannot afford to play with 10 players when we are only just holding up with 11, and especially not against the bigger teams in the group such as Great Britain and Australia.
“Therefore dangerous tackling is to be avoided at all costs as besides getting a player out on a yellow card or even worse, you can also present the other team with a penalty-corner that way.
“Still having four points in the group, Pakistan are in a good position. The players, too, must go into the next match against Great Britain in high spirits and go for the win by playing attacking hockey,” Islah concluded.